The Kroger Co. said on Aug.12 that its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste efforts reduced its supermarket food waste footprint—the overall food waste it produced—by 9 percent in 2018, creating measurable improvements in its retail operations and more environmentally conscious associates. Kroger’s progress was outlined in its 2019 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report, also released Aug. 12. This is the Cincinnati-based grocery company’s 13th annual report on its sustainability progress. It is available online.
“We know our customers, associates, stakeholders and investors care deeply about people and our planet,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, in his letter to ESG stakeholders. “The world around us is changing too—a warming climate, global population growth, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity and more. These eco-realities affect our collective ability to feed people today and in the future. They are also the force behind Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan. We know 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is thrown out, yet one in eight people in our country are food insecure—perhaps even someone we know. Redirecting just one-third of the food wasted in the U.S. every year would more than feed those struggling with hunger.”
“Today doing the right thing for society and being environmentally sustainable are table stakes for corporations,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger’s group VP of corporate affairs and chief social impact officer. “That’s why we’re proud to go above and beyond with our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan. Our progress in each of the environmental, social and governance aspects of sustainability are a direct result of these innovative and intentional efforts.”
Kroger’s ESG report details progress in 2018 on Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan, as well as its 2020 sustainability goals.
- Reduced Food Waste Footprint: Kroger’s food waste generated by retail stores decreased 9 percent, reducing both food waste and the greenhouse gases resulting from it.
- Improved Food Waste Diversion: Kroger achieved a 13 percent improvement in supermarket food waste diverted from landfill, moving from 27 percent diversion in 2017 to 40 percent in 2018.
- Achieved 2020 Electricity Savings Goal: Kroger supermarkets have saved more than 2 billion kWh, placing the company well ahead of its 40 percent electricity savings goal by 2020.
- Made Progress on Packaging and Plastics: Kroger reduced the amount of plastic resin in Our Brands packaging by 9.1 million pounds so far—well on its way to reaching a 10-million-pound goal by 2020.
- Commenced Installation of Solar Panels at Paramount Distribution Center: Kroger’s 555,000-s.f. facility will be powered by more than 7,000 solar panels, producing 50 percent of electricity for the automated distribution center in Paramount, California.
- Expanding Fresh Food Rescue: Kroger associates rescued 10 percent more food from its stores, plants and distribution centers, meaning that 100 million pounds of food went to food insecure families in America.
- Educating Zero Heroes of Tomorrow: The Kroger Co. Foundation partnered with World Wildlife Fund to expand its “Food Waste Warriors” educational program to nine U.S. cities, teaching students and school staff about where food comes from and what happens when it is thrown away.
- Feeding Futures: Through Feed Your Future, Kroger associates can receive up to $3,500 annually (and up to $21,000 over the course of their careers) toward continuing education, no matter where they are in their education journeys.
- Supporting Communities: Kroger directed more than $328 million in food and funds to its communities in 2018. About $192 million of this amount focused on ending hunger.
- Supplier Inclusion: Kroger spent more than $2.6 billion with women- and minority-owned businesses in 2018.
- Sustainable Sourcing: Kroger sourced 88% of wild-caught fresh and frozen seafood in supermarket seafood departments from certified sustainable sources. The company also purchased more than 17 million pounds of Fair Trade-certified ingredients for Our Brands products.
- New and Updated Sustainability Commitments: Kroger formalized and refined several key sustainability commitments in this year’s report, including:
- Pollinator Protection
- Carbon Impact Reduction
- Community Engagement
- Responsible Marketing.